Gusty winds and torrential rains of cyclone ‘Thane’ hit the coastal areas of Chennai, Cuddalore and Puducherry (UT). Several trees, street lamp posts and electric poles were uprooted causing extensive damage to the road and electrical network. The Prathamik Shiksha Varga of RSS Puducherry Vibhag was concluded on December 30, 2011, one day advance in order to carry out the relief work in the cyclone affected areas. Initially, the RSS volunteers did field work to assess the extent of damage. Since there was complete breakdown of power supply throughout the two districts of Cuddalore and Pondy, it was ascertained that there is an urgent requirement of candles, mosquito coils, match boxes, and also drinking water.
Rescue services faced difficulty in reaching the affected areas due to damaged roads. Swayamsevaks cleared the uprooted trees and electric poles which helped the linemen to attend and restore electricity immediately in some parts of Puducherry town. Mosquito coils, matchboxes, candles, bread packets, water packets were distributed to 600 houses at five places of Puducherry town and to 1,000 houses of the villages surrounding Villiyanur, Thirukannur, Kalapattu Panchayats of Puducherry.
In Cuddalore district, 3 kgs of rice per family were distributed along with candles, match boxes, mosquito coils etc. to 1,200 houses of Vandipalayam and Pudupallayam villages. Councillor joined the RSS volunteers in the relief work in spite of the death of his uncle. This act by the Councillor received appreciation from the local people. Another Ward Councillor who accompanied the swayamsevaks during relief distribution made it a point to inform the beneficiaries as follows: These relief materials are from swayamsevaks. Not from any other agency. Door-to-door distributions of essential items were highly appreciated. Fifty swayamsevaks participated in the relief work organised under the leadership of Pondy Sanghachalak Shri Selvaraj and secretarty Shri Guru Subramanian. Further relief work is still under progress.
In north Chennai, food packets were distributed to 5 most affected fishing hamlets for 100 persons in each hamlet for two days. The swayamsevaks who undertook this quick relief work were in fact undergoing training in a seven day camp of RSS. They attached greater importance to serve the needy and therefore were at the doors of the storm hit.
(By VSK Chennai)
Ayyappa devotees from Andhra find highly motivated swayamsevaks
Recently, the volunteers of Ayyappa Sewa Samajam were on the relief work when a van carrying Ayyappa devotees from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh met with an accident at Thoppur, near Salem killing seven pilgrims in the early hours of the day. Two persons who survived were admitted in the hospital. DSP Muthu Karruppan and SP Muthusamy along with volunteers, tried to trace the whereabouts of the deceased persons. The volunteers suggested that the addresses and details can be traced through mail for verification, so that the two persons admitted in the hospital were not disturbed. They took photos of the deceased persons, called their relatives over phone, and took their mail id. They sent the photos for verification through mail. A police official was kind enough to offer as his contribution, a part of the expense. The entire expenses for post-mortem, ambulance, etc. were met by the volunteers. The Salem unit of Ayyappa Seva Sangam helped in arranging ambulances to send the bodies to the natives to Guntur. To cap it all, when the ambulance entered the native village carrying the dead bodies after post-mortem, it is reported that around 15,000 villagers were waiting. The anxiety of the villagers resulted in a glass pane of an ambulance getting broken. The driver was so impressed by the size of the mourning crowd that he did not press for the re-imbursement of the broken window.
It is to be remembered that High Court of Kerala had recommended the services of the Samajam for helping Ayyappa devotees during the pilgrimage. It is remarkable that the Samajam came into being as a result of extensive field study of the pilgrim route to Sabarimala by swayamsevaks.
(By VSK Chennai)